4 May 2017

Auckland rest home welcomes a more youthful crowd

From Nine To Noon, 9:36 am on 4 May 2017

The grinning energy of babies and toddlers is putting a spring in the step of elderly residents at Selwyn Village's rest homes.

For the past 18 months they've been playing host to mums and their offspring as part of their 'Baby Buddies' visiting programme for the wellbeing of its residents and their hosts.

Selwyn Village residents and their 'Baby Buddy' visitors

Selwyn Village residents and their 'Baby Buddy' visitors Photo: Selwyn Village

During the hour-long sessions, residents read books to the children, help them with arts, crafts and pre-school learning activities, share stories and encourage their young visitors in their singing and dancing performances.

Baby Buddies team leader Carolyn Berridge told Kathryn Ryan she’s been attending the weekly sessions with her toddler, Sam, for just over a year.

“It was just a wonderful experience to see my son Sam interacting with a lot of the elderly residents and seeing their faces brighten up and I thought, ‘I want to get involved with this’.

Berridge says they let the babies and adults interact in any way they choose at the weekly sessions.

“The children are very young so they don’t respond to structure, so we just let them hang out with the residents in whatever way works for them.”

The babies are fascinated by the residents’ electric wheelchairs and also like to go on rides on their walkers, she says.

The sessions take the residents back to when they were parents themselves and Berridge says they’re very comfortable handling the babies.

“I hear a lot of stories about their own children, when they were babies and toddlers, we get some good advice on how to parent our toddlers and babies.

Selwyn Foundation registered diversional therapist at Selwyn Village, Orquidea Mortera, is hoping the Baby Buddies programme will be rolled out elsewhere.

Mortera says they bring joy to the adults involved.

“Our residents are more calm after the visits, they talk about the visits through the whole week, they actually know the baby names and the mums, they look forward to the visits and they actually want to keep in touch with all of them.

“It’s just been fantastic, how magic happens …. It’s bringing the community together.”

Mortera says a highlight was when a resident noticed a young girl playing the piano.


“She just went along and sit next to her and she tried to teach her how to play a tune. They both started playing and they laughed because obviously they weren’t making sense of what they were playing, but they were having such a fantastic time.”

Anyone interested in taking part in baby buddies can find out more at here https://www.facebook.com/SelwynVillageBabyBuddies/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf